Virginia vows near universal access to high-speed internet by 2024
Speaking in a rural fire station garage, Governor Ralph Northam said the state would be one of the first in the nation to offer universal access to Broadband. The push came, in part, from the pandemic, which kept kids out of school.
“Families were having to go to fast food restaurants and getting on hot spots so their children would have access to broadband," he recalls. "That is something we should all find unacceptable. Telehealth became very popular during COVID-19.”
But those without broadband couldn’t have virtual visits with doctors.
Now, Northam said, the Commonwealth had come up with $722 million to build infrastructure in 70 parts of the state that lack high-speed internet. Also on hand, U.S. Senator Mark Warner who met with reporters afterward and said expanded access to the internet should be accompanied by greater regulation.
“I’m embarrassed that five years after we saw Russia massively intervene in our elections and we have whistle blowers from companies like Facebook about the manipulation taking place with our children on a lot of these platforms, we haven’t done anything,” he told reporters.
Warner predicted Congress would put new controls in place next year.
Senator Tim Kaine added that Virginia would be among the first states to provide universal access to broadband, adding to the Commonwealth’s clout in the digital age.
“We’re the data center capital of the world, and we also now increasingly are the landing spot of choice from the most modern version of trans-Atlantic cables," he said. "They aren’t now coming into New York. They’re coming into Hampton Roads. You combine the connection around the world with universal access with data center density here, Virginia is really in a leading position.” :21
The actual construction will be done by various companies including one called Firefly – a subsidiary of the Central Virginia Electric Cooperative. It claims to be building 20 miles of fiber in Central Virginia each week.